Popbot 3-pack by Ashley Wood and 3A

Ascended headLook what Santa had in his sack for me this year. The Popbot 3-Pack (Popbot, Badbot and The Ascended plus a Kitty each in different colourways). Popbot is an on-going comic by Ashley Wood and his company 3A make toys from this world and others…

Long sold out from pre-order night and waiting in customs for a month while Parcel Force got their act together, they arrived on Dec 23rd so I decided to save them a couple more days before the big opening.

Pop sidePop topBad fullAscendedAscended legs & kittyBad legs

Posted in Comics, Design, Robots, Toys. | 2 Comments |

You’ll Ruin The Furniture!

I’ve been picking up old Jack Kirby comics over the last year or so just because I like their throwaway-ness. The man was an art juggernaut, churning out pages like nobodies business, often copied, never bettered. What strikes you when you read the scripts from the 70’s is how basic they are and some of the language, in today’s context, verges on double entendre. Some is just plain odd, like this one.
Mind the furniture!

Posted in Comics, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Spiderman meets Dr. Strange by Brendan McCarthy

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Just finished reading this short, 3 part series where everyone’s favourite wall crawler teams up with Dr. Strange in a story called ‘Fever’. I’m not a big superhero comics fan, Superman, Batman, X-Men etc. don’t do much for me. I generally prefer the more leftfield end of things, in fact I think this is the first Spiderman comic I’ve ever bought outside of the watered down kind for my boys. So, why the special occasion? Brendan McCarthy. One of the demi-gods of UK comic book art, 2000ad veteran and, in the last 2 decades, storyboardist and character designer to Hollywood.

I’ll buy pretty much anything with Brendan’s name on it as he’s a unique talent, rarely repeats himself but has a visual language all of his own. Sometimes copied – Jamie Hewlett’s early work owes much to McCarthy – but never bettered, he is one of the few comic book artists who can portray psychedelia effectively on the printed page, Savage Pencil being another example. He mainly left comics behind after getting his foot in the movie making door and who can blame him, I’m sure the pay is better. But recently he’s been active again here and there and this Marvel Team Up is his first major comic book for some time.

This time round he’s writing as well as illustrating too and seems to have been given quite free reign with the character, something he dives head on into conjuring up a Spider-themed story that incorporates magic, other dimensions, soul-snatching and even references Spidey’s origins quite neatly. It all serves to provide material for a great big acid trip of a story with nods to Steve Dikto and a thinly veiled Alistair Crowley. If you like your comics dark, camp and sporting all the colours of the spectrum then this is for you. In fact one of my only criticisms (aside from the shortness of it all) is the colouring ,which has been done via computer. Some of it works but, knowing McCarthy’s painted work from the past, there’s something lacking in some of the pages. Also for some reason, I’m guessing meddlesome middle management, the covers are pretty awful, really badly laid out with muddy colours which is a shame as his work is usually so bright and bold.

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Posted in Art, Comics. | 4 Comments |

3A books launch today

headerbeiOne of my favourite artists and certainly my favourite toy-making company – Ashley Wood and 3A – launch their new book range today on the eve of a massive art and toy show in Beijing. Two hardback books with work from Phil Hale and Ashley Wood are available for $25 each but the one I’m most excited about is ‘Entr3At’, a 282 page celebration of the first 2 years of 3A toys. Packed with paintings, photos, works in progress, designs and box art, it’s going to be one of my books of the year for sure. Order any or all of them from bambalandstore now.entreat-cover

Posted in Art, Books, Comics, Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |

New Qemists LP cover by Glenn Fabry

Herbaliser - Wall Crawling..

Ninja Tune artists seem to have a love of comic art and one particular comic in particular has played host to various artists who have also graced Ninja Tune sleeves – 2000AD. The first was The Herbaliser’s ‘Wall Crawling Giant Insect Breaks’ 12″ back in 1998 with a cover painting by Jason Brashill -aka graffiti artist Jase – who used to paint with Req and She One in Brighton. His design of a robotic bug perched on a pair of decks and a mixer is one of my favourites of that era.

DJ Food - ...Weird...World EP 12"cover (72 dpi)My own DJ Food EPs from last year featured new work from Henry Flint who has been a regular on both the weekly comic and monthly Judge Dredd Megazine for over 10 years. He kindly gave me some of his personal work, highly detailed abstract ‘doodles’, to colour for my sleeves (you can see one to the left of this post) and there will be more for the third EP and album.

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qemists_hurtslessFInally we have the latest addition: The Qemists have enlisted none other than Glenn Fabry to paint their new ‘Spirit In The System’ LP cover in what looks like a homage to Stanley Mouse’s Grateful Dead work. If you’ve been paying attention to the recent Qemists releases you’ll notice that the first two are sections of a large ‘logo-ified’ version of the painting, I hope Ninja press a vinyl LP of the album too.

Colouring Henry Flint

So, my new EP – The Shape Of Things That Hum – should finally be in shops today (Jan 11th) after a pressing plant mistake led to the whole lot being repressed, missing the Dec 14th release date.

You’ll find a poster wrapped around the vinyl and inside is another of Henry Flint’s amazing illustrations – done specially for this release. He only provides the line work though and I colour each image in Photoshop using a combination of photos, transparency and colour balancing.

It’s a painstaking process involving many layers, minute mouse work and multiple options and variations. I did several screen shots of the work in progress as I went this time (see below) and I’d estimate it took roughly 2 weeks of intense work.
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It wasn’t helped by Photoshop bugs flattening the image for no reason after saving a session. I’d wake up the next morning to find a whole session had been lost and I had to use Time Machine to go back a stage to un-flatten the thing.

Another setback was ‘the orange juice incident‘ after a weeks work on it in the evenings on holiday. That seems an age away now and I’m at work on the final installment, due out around May. Not sure what the cover to that will be but I have plenty more of Henry’s work available to use and then there’s the album cover…

There will be a Shape Of Things Reader mix up on Soundcloud later this week featuring music from the EP plus influential tracks I was listening to whilst making it and other favourites from 2009.

World’s Best Robots

Ashley Wood is one of my favourite artists, he is ridiculously prolific, can draw and paint like a demon and designs very unique robots. They manage to look both futuristic and retro and they’re always battered, scratched, rusty and dirty. Not only does he draw and paint them but his company 3A makes them a reality in various different scales (1/6, 1/12 and a forthcoming 1/32 scale series’).

His Bramble bot in 1/12 finally arrived the other week, well actually three did – Merc, Medic and Deep Powder variants, all perfect miniatures of the existing 1/6 scale Bramble. The detail is unbelievable and each is articulated in a multitude of places. I’ve ordered a set of Berties in 1/12 too which should be ready for xmas. All these sets sell really fast and are then made to order although some are starting to make their way into retail chains as well as being flipped on eBay.

No one makes better robots, 3A are slowly revolutionising the way toys are made, designed, packaged and painted.

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Posted in Comics, Robots, Toys. | 4 Comments |

Food For Mahfood

Just received a bumper package from my man Jim Mahfood aka Food One in LA. We did a swap of goodies and he really outdid me with the contents of his box. Aside from the comic books, T-shirt, stickers, cards and mix CD he also signed the inner covers of all 3 Mixtape collections AND included the limited edition Paul’s Boutique comic he did about the Beastie Boys’ classic album. Yep, I’m gloating here…

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Posted in Art, Books, Comics, DJ Food. | No Comments |

Jim Mahfood and friends – Cafe 1001


I met up with Jim Mahfood, Scott Campbell and friends Saturday night at Cafe 1001 off Brick Lane on Saturday night in the midst of a live painting session. They had covered a corner of the cafe as well as several flattened cardboard boxes and seemed to be having a great time. I had feared that their trip over would be marred by the tube strike but it seems like the show opening on Thursday was packed and they sold nearly everything already. I’ve been a fan of his work for  a while now but this was the first time we had met and we hit it off immediately, resolving to collaborate on something in the future. Food One vs DJ Food, it has to be done…

Awesome Dude!

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Incredible! – Big Numbers issue 3 sees the light of day!

I have a short mental list of things I’d like to see, hear or experience before I die, and today another one of them stepped closer to reality. This list includes things like the KLF‘s ‘Black Room’ album, Richard Williams‘The Thief and the Cobbler’ film and used to include Brian Wilson‘s ‘Smile’ LP until he miraculously finished it a few years back.

Most of these projects will never see fruition as the time has passed and the creators have moved on leaving a few tantalising snippets of material promising much but revealing little. One such entry on this list is Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz‘s ‘Big Numbers’ comic from the great comic / graphic novel boom in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This comic promised so much being as Moore was riding a creative high from Watchmen and From Hell.

Sienkiewicz had done Elektra, Daredevil and Stray Toasters and was, Dave McKean aside, one of the most daring artists working in comics at the time. The run was supposed to be twelve issues starting in black and white, and tones and colour would be gradually added over the course of the story which revolved around mathematics and chaos theory according to Moore.

Frustratingly the comic was halted after issue 2 by the company going bust and Sienkiewicz’s assistant, an unknown Al Columbia, taking over at issue 3 and then having a breakdown and refusing to release the art. The project stopped, people moved on and it was consigned to the pile of unfinished projects that were never to be.

I never thought I’d ever see this but someone has posted photocopies of the whole of issue 3 here. They are reportedly the real thing and Alan Moore has given his permission to have them made public. Also, Sienkiewicz gives and long and fascinating account of what happened to the comic here. Now, if only Moore, Sienkiewicz and Columbia could be persuaded to finish this potential masterpiece…

PS: to see the quality of these pages (2nd or 3rd generation photocopies apparently) against what could have been, 10 of the fully toned pages can be seen on the web as they were printed, sans speech bubbles, in a fanzine sometime in the 90s.

Big Numbers-03

 

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